Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rejecting Israeli Mis-Leadership

As the last eggs and tomatoes are being thrown (and sadly the odd Israeli flag is ripped and burned) in the Northern Shomron, the deep inner reflection on this Disengagement operation has begun. The truth is that some Israelis are ignoring the whole matter and are not looking for any internal evaluation. (I have such friends!) That attitude I consider a great self-injustice indeed.

Whether for or against or simply upset and confused (like most of us), we as Israelis need to gather ourselves and do some honest soul-searching. It must start with individuals, include all segments of society and extend to the very edges of the Jewish world.

On this topic, I could blog and facilitate KIC sessions for hours. (Try me!) Certainly, if anything, Disengagement has made us think and given us lots to write about.

I want to start with the relationship between the Israeli government(s) and those residents of Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) and their supporters. A colleague said something quite intriguing yesterday and yet so blatantly brimful with morals and common sense. Basically, it's time for this or the next Israeli government to decide what past Israeli governments have been too weak, afraid or incapable of doing. In essence, it is time, according to my colleague, that our national leaders decide once and for all what will be our relationship with the territories and the Jewish towns that were established there with the approval, funding and encouragement of countless Labor and Likud governments.

Without a doubt and as it has been proven this last week, such a decision brings with it crushing of dreams, bursting of bubbles, challenges to unity, to democracy, to morality and to Israeli society as a whole.

I am not backing the taking of such major decisions because I am anti-settlement or pro-Palestinian or wearing any label for that matter. Simply, as I see it, it's time for Israelis and world Jews to lay it all on the line. How should I put this? Try this - if the Israeli majority (and the next government) plan to disengage from large segments of the Land of Israel, then have the decency to let us know NOW. As far as I am concerned, it is totally unacceptable for successive governments to lead the settlement movement and its supporters (religious and secular) down the slippery and winding road downwards towards despair, heartbreak and dream destruction. It's a rotten thing to do - immoral and painful.

I can not overlook the powerful role that Rabbis and righter-wing community leaders have to play in this. But when push literally comes to shove, the last week has shown that the IDF and the police (proxies of the Israeli government) will decide what remains in Jewish hands and what is given over to Palestinian ownership.

I was amazed as 20 new English-speaking immigrants watched silently, some with tears, as I showed them coverage of the Disengagement during my KIC session at Ulpan Etzion last night. I was struck by the South African 2-year oleh who told me on Shabbat that for the first time since his Aliyah (and probably in his life) he was now forced to re-evaluate his relationship with Israel and with the IDF.

Friends - now is the moment! Our leaders and our citizens must find the courage to face what is fast becoming policy - that is, Israel's abandonment of post-1967 lands. It might be a policy we reject and I personally hold great fears for Israel when we persist on giving without the existence of even a semblance of peaceful reciprocity from the Palestinians.

Clearly, neither the world nor the Palestinians will send us chocolates of any description nor show any inch of appreciation for the courage and risks taken this last week. (According to that columnist, we won't be the happiest little family ourselves either).

Yet, I never again wish to see such broken, distraught adults and children, whether soldiers or Yesha residents, fighting over a decision that was made somewhat hastily and without honest and brotherly consultation before execution.

Israeli leaders (politicians, Rabbis, community heads) and all of us must be willing to re-evaluate and embrace consultation. All Israelis should brush up on their listening skills a little.
Orange supporters must evaluate the major reasons behind their lack of representation in the courts, the Knesset, the academic world and the media. If their lack of influence bothers them so much, they must take this time to search for solutions.

We, voting citizens of this great country, must find the courage to elect leaders who stand ready to sit with the brother they disagree with and who show honest leadership, foresight and wisdom. For good or for bad, for the benefit of us all and for more enjoyable dreams, we must mislead no further.


Rabbi Zajac said...

Funny how the AP quotes President Bush saying that any American withdrawal from Iraq will weaken America as it will be seen by the terrorists as a capitulation to terror.
While we are on the subject of hipocrisy, were is the world outcry on the population transfer that just occured, or is it because it is Jewish people doing it to each other that it is OK?

Michael Lawrence said...

I would agree with you about the contradiction between Bush's "we won't give victory to terror by pulling out" stance and his stance towards Israel. There appears to be a serious problem with that argument if Israel is expected to continue handing over lands without any reciprocity.

As for transfer of Jewish population, I imagine that because it was done relatively morally and without use of weapons or genocide etc, noone is too concerned (other than Israelis).

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned, it is totally unacceptable for successive governments to lead the settlement movement and its supporters (religious and secular) down the slippery and winding road downwards towards despair, heartbreak and dream destruction. It's a rotten thing to do - immoral and painful."

Similarly ...As far as I am concerned, it is totally unacceptable for the settlement leadership to lead the successive Israeli Governments and Israeli society as a whole down the slippery and winding road downwards towards despair, heartbreak and dream destruction. It's a rotten thing to do - immoral and painful.

The Settler leadership has manipulated the sectarian nature of the political system in Israel (as have many other sectors- this is more a criticism of the system then the settlers) for their own ends and led us down a path which is untenable and incompatible with Jewish values such as 'looking after the weakest sectors of our society' and 'looking after the stranger in our midst'. Their mistake is to focus solely on the quantity of our state rather than its quality.

Yellow Boy

Rafael V. Rabinovich said...

Sometimes I just wonder what people like "Yellow Boy" smoke.
All Jews are "Settlers". Unless someone is homeless, and addicted to nomadism, we're all settled somewhere. Blessed are those who settle in the Land of Israel!
The so-called "green-line" is nothing but an accident, where the armies stoped at the eve of the signing of the 1949 Armistice. It was, for the record, an agreement of temporary nature, between invading Arab armies and the defending Jewish, Israeli, forces.
The Armistice was nullified by the massive Arab attack on Israel in 1967. They LOST the war in six days. The new borders included all of Yesha, Ramat haGolan, and the Sinai. That was it, no more green lines.
Settlers or Residents are interchangable words, and there is NO DIFFERENCE between a Jewish Settler in Tel Aviv or Herzliah, and a Jewish resident in Bat 'Ayin or Ma'aleh Adumim. It is all Eretz Yisrael, it is all Israel.

Anonymous said...

Rafael, your point is irrelevant and your condescending tone quite unnecessary. The total focus on the quantity of the State of Israel has come at the expense of the quality of it. This is untenable and incompatible with Jewish values in the long term.

Yellow Boy